Sunday, April 06, 2014

When the Great Man falls, we fall. We fall...

In the fall, we lost our BSA Troop Committee Chairwoman, Marie. A couple of weeks ago, we lost another great Scouter, and I lost yet another mentor and friend.

Steve was a deacon at our church and was very active in Scouting. 25 years plus active, as a matter of fact. My life got to overlap with his on these two very wonderful fronts, and I got to know him really well in both venues.

A lot of people get their kids through the Scout program and then they quit, phase out after a year or so. Steve got his son through Eagle, it wasn't an easy process, but he did it. They did it. And Steve kept on.

At our church, often times he was a voice of reason. He would think deeply about a situation or a problem. He had great opinions. I found him to be a calm voice in a big storm sometimes. If there was a conflict or problem, I would often say to myself, "I want to know what Steve's take is on this..." 

He died suddenly, unexpectedly, and my heart breaks even weeks afterwards just thinking of how important he was to his family, our church and the Scouting program.

I'm heartbroken because of how important he was to me, and how much he loved my son. We are getting ready to submit Geoff's Eagle project, and I had asked Steve to serve as his project coach. He was elated. He couldn't wait to get this going. And now he's gone.

Steve was the best Boy Scout I know ... because he lived literally by the Scout Oath and Law on a daily basis. Need something done? Steve will be there, a smile on his face and a joke in his heart. He may grumble if it starts raining, but the job will get done. Flat tire on the side of the highway? Steve is that guy who is going to stop and help you figure out how the jack works, and get your car up, tire changed, and back on the road in no time.

There were many events at our church where I rolled up my sleeves and stood side by side with Steve, but there were even more that I passed on and I greatly regret that. I won't get that opportunity again, to live life in service beside a man who did it so well.

At his funeral, I got to be the last person who shared a memory about him. I overlapped with him in church and Scouting so I addressed the Scouting end of things. I had my son come forward and lead those who were Scouts in the Oath and Law, and as Geoff lumbered back to his seat I recalled the best Steve story ever -- the time he helped Geoff get his canoeing merit badge in 2009.

I intended on talking about "Be Prepared," and how Steve's death was something NONE of us could have been prepared for. But to live this life prepared to leave it by loving one another so powerfully, and to do such great things, that the world is in essence changed forever by your being there... and by your passing.

The church was PACKED, and I almost made a joke, which my pastor might not have found funny. "Jesus rising from the dead can't fill these pews this full but man alive, Steve dying packs all y'all in here!" It would have gotten a laugh from that crowd, but ... sometimes you share the joke with your husband on the way home instead.

I told the audience, whether or not they were Scouts or Scouters to print out the oath and law, tape it up somewhere that they can read it every day, and do it. Do the words. Live the words. Do it for Steve and do him proud. There were a lot of smiles coming back at me, and I know Steve would have liked what I had to say.

My friend Jim Infantino has a song where the refrain (in the title here) states that "when the Great Man falls, we fall..." the rest of the song is about a professor he had who was a titan, a role model, a great mentor and leader. The verses don't apply to Steve, but that refrain... gets me every time now when I think of it.

And in my head, I know that Steve would stand behind me and put a hand on my shoulder and tell me get up, and go on.

And I will.

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